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Recap ~ First Saturday Arts Market, Houston 3/6/10

March 8, 2010

In my last post, I mentioned heat, cold, wind and rain.  I don’t think I mentioned poor sales.  We have a philosophy that we live by when doing these shows.  If the venue is good, the weather is good, the advertising has been good, and there are people there, then just because we don’t sell doesn’t necessarily make it a bad show.  We did the First Saturday Arts Market in Houston seven times last year, and except for December, our sales increased every time.

Our philosophy is that Our Buyers didn’t show up this time.  Well… MY buyers didn’t show up.  Nell’s did.  Two of her mini florals sold.  That’s it.  We stopped at Cracker Barrel on the way home and used our sales revenue to buy breakfast.  Even managed to leave a tip.  Her minis, which we usually have on a table right at the aisle, are great little traffic stoppers.  The majority of the buyers at these shows are women or couples, and very few women can walk past without stopping to picking up one of these little gems.  Of course, the genius behind this is that once they’ve stopped, they will look up and come into the booth to browse the rest of the artwork as well.  And they did.  They just didn’t buy.

Mitch Cohen, who runs this market, always has live music.  One of my personal favorites is Kenneth Scott (above).  Kenneth can get your adrenaline going with his acoustic guitar work, and that also livens the crowd up as well.

Below are a couple of pictures of parts of the booth.  The first one features my partner and the love of my life.  Nell works as hard as anyone at setup and teardown, and often does most of the driving on these trips, so I can take photos along the way.  She may be small, but she’s tough.  She’s also perfectly capable of explaining what gouache is, and a bit about the subjects and my methods when I’m not in the booth.  It also tickles her to death when someone buys one of her minis.  The second picture includes me, trying to appear nonchalant, which I never am during a show.

The next picture is an overall shot of the booth.

When I see a shot like this, I realize that it’s probably best to always have the back wall of the tent down, to eliminate the visual clutter behind us.  But this particular show is pretty casual, so I don’t always worry about it.  Another thing we talked about during the show is that the drapes for the tables need to be of a material that doesn’t wrinkle so bad.  They have to be folded and packed in a tub with other items, and we don’t think about it between shows.  We may still be putting up too much work, but it’s difficult to edit it down, and we do think people enjoy browsing.  Whether we’re giving them too many choices is still a subject of discussion.

It wasn’t a bad crowd, and we did get some traffic in the booth, but not like we’ve had at this venue in the past.  It just wasn’t the same crowd.  There was a Chamber of Commerce crawfish boil in the next parking lot down from us, and they were not our usual patrons.  We did think we saw some interest in a couple of the landscapes and the street scenes, but then they picked up a card, said “We’ll be back.” which of course, is a nice way of saying goodby.

It was a beautiful day.  A little cool in late afternoon, but nice.  I’ve heard that it was a profitable show for some.  It just wasn’t our day.  Our buyers stayed home, did the yard, and barbequed.

The trailer worked out beautifully.  Everything had its place.  I had packed specific work in specific tubs, which I rarely do, and just before teardown we decided that I would take down and pack the work for this tub, and Nell would do the work for that tub.  We were able to work independently which made it go faster.  By handling separate tasks, we managed to get everything down and piled in our booth space in less than an hour.  The trailer did take a little more time to get a good parking space to load, but it wasn’t bad.  One of the entertainers pulled in and parked right in the loading zone, and got out to chat with friends/admirers.  It actually only caused a very small delay, but by the time you’ve done your eleven hours, you’re ready to load up and go home, and it doesn’t take much to irritate you.

Was it a good show?  Not for us.  We lost money on this one.  But we’re booked in for the April and May shows, and look forward to Our Buyers showing up at those.  Are we discouraged?  Not at all.

Momma said there’d be days like this.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2010 2:16 am

    Ralph,

    The bottom, and third photo from the bottom aren’t showing up.

    Nice displays! You’ll will make a sale next time.

    Don

    • March 9, 2010 3:49 pm

      Don’t know what the problem might be, Don. They’re showing up when I open it. Thanks.

  2. March 16, 2010 11:48 pm

    One day I’ll own a Parker Family collection. Love reading your posts too y’all. I would LOVE these photos and if you have more. We post them online at flickr.com too. Holler if you sign up. Here’s the group: http://www.flickr.com/groups/yalestreetmarket/

    Cheers! See ya soon.
    Mitch

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